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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

GAMIS tidak mahu kemenangan Pro-M dikait parti politik






Harakahdaily

KUALA LUMPUR, 22 Feb: Kejayaan pelajar Pro Mahasiswa menguasai lapan daripada 13 kampus dalam pilihanraya semalam memberikan petanda baik kepada gerak kerja anti Barisan Nasional.

Naib Presiden PKR, Fuziah Salleh dalam satu kenyataannya melalui twitter berkata, kemenangan itu adalah petanda baik (untuk Pakatan).

Dalam pilihan raya kampus semalam, kumpulan Pro Mahasiswa menguasai kampus Universiti Malaya (UM), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI), Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM), Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), Universiti Sains Malaysia kampus Kubang Kerian (USMKK), Universiti Malaysia Sabah kampus Labuan (UMSL) dan Universiti Malaysia Kelantan (UMK).

Hari ini pilihan raya untuk kampus Universiti Islam Antarabangsa (UIA) dan Universiti Teknologi Mara (UITM) sedang berlangsung.

Pro-M dijangka akan menang di UIA kerana mereka telah berjaya merampas 14 kerusi tanpa bertanding dalam kampus itu.

Berbanding sesi lalu, pilihan raya kali ini menyaksikan Pro Mahasiswa mencatatkan sejarah dengan menawan kepimpinan Majlis Perwakilan Mahasiswa (MPP) di beberapa universiti selepas tempoh yang lama dikuasai Pro Aspirasi.

Sementara itu, Gabungan Mahasiswa Islam Se-Malaysia (GAMIS) tidak bersetuju dengan pandangan Fuziah yang didakwa cuba menunjukkan mereka berpihak kepada mana-mana parti politik.

Menurut Ketua Penerangan GAMIS, Mohd Yusof Hadhari, pihaknya berasa kesal dengan kenyataan yang dibuat oleh Naib Presiden PKR itu.

“Mahasiswa berperanan sebagai ‘check and balance’ yang akan menentukan sokongan kepada kerajaan yang diperintah BN ataupun PR bukan kerana agenda politik mereka tetapi menilai sejauh mana keadilan, kesaksamaan dan ketelusan yang dibawa oleh sesebuah parti dalam negara," katanya dalam satu kenyataan hari ini.

Beliau juga menegaskan mahasiswa adalah golongan bersifat bebas dan tidak perlu melabelkan mahasiswa pro kerajaan atau pro pembangkang.


http://www.harakahdaily.net/v2/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=30998:gamis-tidak-mahu-kemenangan-pro-m-dikait-parti-politik&catid=1:utama&Itemid=50

Pereka grafik buka laman web 2Malaysia

Harakahdaily

KUALA LUMPUR, 22 Feb: Kerana tidak berpuashati dengan slogan 1Malaysia Datuk Seri Najib Razak, seorang pereka grafik membuka satu laman web khas untuk melawannya.

Menurut Ariff Junaidi dalam satu kenyataannya, beliau telah melancarkan satu laman web di http://www.2malaysia.org semalam bagi menyampaikan hasratnya itu.

"Sebelum ini saya telah mempromosikan 2Malaysia menerusi laman Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/2malaysia," kata Ariff dalam kenyataannya.

Ariff berkata, beliau mendapat inspirasi daripada kempen parodi politik luar negara seperti MyDavidCameron dan berhasrat melancarkan 2Malaysia untuk menunjukkan hipokritnya kerajaan dalam kempen 1Malaysia mereka.

Tiga poster kini disediakan mengikut tema 1Malaysia iaitu 1Malaysia, Rakyat Didahulukan, Pencapaian Diutamakan.

"Saya berhasrat orang ramai boleh turut serta dengan menghantar poster rekaan mereka mengikut tema 2Malaysia kepada saya menerusi laman web dan Facebook saya.

"Saya yakin orang ramai juga muak dengan propaganda Kerajaan," kata Ariff dalam kenyataannya kepada Harakadaily.

Menurut Ariff, dia bukan ahli mana-mana parti tetapi kecewa melihat perbezaan antara apa yang Najib katakan dan apa yang berlaku dalam realiti.

"Sebagai seorang pereka grafik, ini antara apa yang saya mampu lakukan," katanya.

Antara poster awal yang dimasukkan Ariff dalam laman itu adalah poster runtuhnya bangunan Stadium Sultan Mizan di Kuala Terengganu yang Ariff lakarkan ia sebagai 'pencapaian diutamakan'.

Turut dimuatkan Ariff dalam laman 2Malaysia beliau adalah parodi kepada 1Malaysia Najib dengan peranan yang dimainkan oleh akhbar Umno, Utusan Malaysia.


http://www.harakahdaily.net/v2/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=30997:pereka-grafik-buka-laman-web-2malaysia&catid=1:utama&Itemid=50

Siapa terima 1.5 bilion saham khas Bumiputra

Harakahdaily

PETALING JAYA, 22 Feb: Setiausaha Agung PKR, Saifuddin Nasution Ismail menyeru Menteri Perdagangan Antarabangsa dan Industri, Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed mengumumkan sepenuhnya penerima 1.5 bilion saham khas Bumiputra yang diagihkan dalam tahun 2010.

Mustapa juga, katanya diminta mengumumkan rombakan mekanisme dan penambahbaikan kepada sistem agihan dan pemantauan saham khas Bumiputra untuk mengelakkan penyelewengan yang mengakibatkan kehilangan RM52 bilion saham Bumiputra tidak berulang.

Oleh itu, tegasnya mekanisme yang sama yang telah menyebabkan kerugian RM52 bilion saham Bumiputra ini perlu dirombak sama sekali.

“Saya akan membawa perkara ini dalam sidang Dewan Rakyat yang akan datang untuk memastikan ketelusan dan pertanggungjawaban pihak-pihak yang terbabit,” ujarnya pada sidang media di ibu pejabat PKR di sini, hari ini.

Beliau yang juga Ahli Parlimen Machang berkata, PKR ingin menarik perhatian rakyat kepada pengumuman terbaru yang dibuat oleh Mustapa Mohamad mengenai pengagihan saham khas bumiputra melalui tawaran awam permulaan (IPO).

Mustapa menyatakan bahawa kerajaan Umno BN telah berjaya meningkatkan ekuiti Bumiputra dalam sektor swasta ke aras 22%; sebahagian besarnya melalui pengagihan saham khas bumiputra yang dilaksanakan oleh kementerian beliau.

Katanya, rakyat sudah tentu merasa janggal apabila kerajaan Umno BN mendabik dada apabila hanya berjaya meningkatkan ekuiti Bumiputra ke tahap 22% dalam tahun 2011, sedangkan ia gagal mencapai sasaran 30% yang ditetapkan untuk tahun 1990.

Tambahnya, selepas 21 tahun dan penyelewengan saham berjumlah puluhan bilion ringgit atas nama Melayu dan Bumiputra, kini Umno BN tidak lagi memikirkan persoalan maruahnya dan akan sanggup mendabik dada walau sekelumit mana pun peningkatan ekuiti Bumiputra.

Walau bagaimana pun, ujarnya kebimbangan sebenar PKR adalah berhubung pengurusan agihan saham khas Bumiputra memandangkan skim agihan yang sama telah menyebabkan sejumlah RM52 bilion dari RM54 bilion saham yang diagihkan kepada Bumiputra lesap begitu sahaja, seperti yang diakui Perdana Menteri sendiri.

Menurutnya, dalam tahun 2010 sahaja, sebanyak 1.5 bilion saham dari 18 tawaran awam permulaan diagihkan kononnya kepada pelabur Bumiputra.

Tahun 2010 juga, ujarnya menyaksikan apungan saham yang terbesar akhir-akhir ini, termasuklah yang melibatkan Petronas Chemical Group Berhad pada harga tawaran RM5.05 setiap saham dan Malaysian Marine and Heavy Engineering Holding Berhad pada harga tawaran RM3.61 setiap saham.

Beliau menambah, jika sebahagian besar dari 1.5 bilion saham yang diagihkan kepada pelabur Bumiputra itu datangnya dari saham-saham syarikat Petronas, maka saham yang bernilai berbilion ringgit telah pun diagihkan kepada pelabur-pelabur yang berselindung di belakang nama Bumiputra.

Mekanisme agihan inilah yang telah gagal sebelum ini hingga mewujudkan budaya politik naungan yang mencari jalan mudah mendapatkan saham dengan berselindung di sebalik alasan mencapai sasaran 30% ekuiti Bumiputra.

“Akhirnya, berpuluh-puluh bilion ringgit saham yang diagihkan kepada individu-individu berkepentingan dijual dengan segera untuk mendapatkan kekayaan mudah, lalu mewujudkan golongan elit kaya Melayu yang sebenarnya menjadi kaya dengan menindas orang Melayu terbanyak,” ujarnya.

Beliau percaya bahawa teras pengupayaan ekonomi Bumiputra perlu beralih dari kegilaan mencapai sasaran 30% ekuiti kepada fokus untuk meningkatkan pendapatan isi rumah keluarga Bumiputra.

Mereka, ujarnya membentuk 75% daripada anggaran 11 juta rakyat termiskin di negara ini yang hanya mendapat pendapatan bulanan purata sebanyak RM1,500 sebulan sahaja.

“Kegilaan dengan 30% sasaran ekuiti seperti yang dimainkan Umno BN tidak akan berjaya menangani kemelut ekonomi rakyat terbanyak Bumiputra dan akan terus disalahgunakan oleh golongan elit pemerintah dan niagawan,” katanya.


http://www.harakahdaily.net/v2/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=30992:siapa-terima-15-bilion-saham-khas-bumiputra&catid=1:utama&Itemid=50

Pro-M kuasai dua dari lima kampus utama

Harakahdaily

KUALA LUMPUR, 22 Feb: Keputusan Pilihan Raya Kampus (PRK) di lima dari universiti utama yang berlangsung semalam menyaksikan kumpulan Pro Mahasiswa (ProM) menguasai dua kampus berbanding kumpalan Pro-Aspirasi.

Pro-M merampas kembali penguasaan mereka di kampus paling panas, Universiti Malaya dan satu lagi di Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM).

Di UM mereka mendapat 23 kerusi daripada 41 kerusi yang dipertandingkan berbanding Pro Aspirasi yang hanya mendapat 16 kerusi dan dua lagi dimenangi calon Bebas.

Sembilan dari 23 kerusi itu merupakan kerusi Umum yang disapu bersih oleh mereka.

Manakala di UKM, kumpulan pro-M atas nama Gabungan Mahasiswa UKM memperoleh 22 kerusi dari 37 kerusi yang dipertandingkan manakala Pro Aspirasi yang hanya mendapat 15 kerusi.

Bagaimanapun, Pro-M tewas di tiga kampus lain iaitu Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Universiti Sains malaysia (USM) dan Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM).

Di UPM, Pro Aspirasi mempertahankan penguasaan mereka apabila menang 32 kerusi termasuk lima kerusi umum berbanding Pro Mahasiswa yang hanya mendapat 11 kerusi.

Sebanyak 43 kerusi dipertandingkan termasuk sembilan kerusi peringkat umum.

Di UTM pula, Pro Aspirasi memperoleh 38 kerusi daripada 56 kerusi yang dipertandingkan berbanding Pro-M yang hanya mendapat 12 kerusi, manakala enam lagi dimenangi calon Bebas.

Situasi sama berlaku di USM, namun Pro Aspirasi kali ini menang tipis dengan berkelebihan hanya satu kerusi menewaskan Pro-M.

Pro Aspirasi mendapat 11 kerusi daripada 21 kerusi yang dipertandingkan berbanding Pro-M yang memperoleh 10 kerusi.

Sementara itu, beberapa lagi kampus menjalankan proses pengundian hari ini termasuk Universiti Islam Antarabangsa (UIA) dan Universiti Tun Hussin Onn (UTHM).

http://www.harakahdaily.net/v2/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=30999:pro-m-kuasai-dua-dari-lima-kampus-utama&catid=1:utama&Itemid=50

Isu pluralisme agama tidak berbangkit

Harakahdaily

KOTA BHARU, 22 Feb: Isu pluralisme agama tidak berbangkit di negara ini kerana semua umat Islam sedar dan yakin bahawa satu-satunya agama yang diterima di sisi Allah adalah Islam.

"Ini adalah keyakinan umat Islam dan bukan menjadi masalah di negara ini. Yang menjadi masalah adalah penghayatan ke atas agama," kata anggota Parlimen Machang, Saifudin Nasution Ismail

Beliau berkata demikian ketika berucap dalam satu majlis dekat sini.

Saifudin yang juga Setiausaha Agung PKR dipercayai mengulas kenyataan Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Najib agar umat Islam tidak terjebak dalam pluralisme agama.

Najib dipercayai cuba menjuarai isu ini bersama dengan para penguasa agama dalam Umno yang cuba menyerang Ketua Umum PKR, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.


Anwar dituduh menerima konsep pluralisme agama iaitu menyamakan semua agama yang dinafikan sama sekali oleh Anwar.

Bagi Saifudin, antara masalah penghayatan Islam yang utama adalah mematuhi tuntutan asas bagi umat Islam termasuk menutup aurat.


Antaranya, kata Saifudin, pihak berkuasa Umno tidak perlu forum Maulidul Rasul kalau tidak berani untuk sebut kepada Perdana Menteri perkara paling asas sekali.

"Wahai Perdana Menteri, sudi apa kiranya menerima pandangan kami, bahawa kewajiban suami nombor satu adalah memerintahkan atau mengarahkan isterinya agar menutup aurat, sebagai salah satu tuntutan Islam, agama yang diterima di sisi Allah.

"Boleh buat tak perkara ini agak-agaknya...itu isunya bukan kepelbagaian agama," kata Saifudin kepada pemimpin dan penguasa agama yang berada dalam Umno.

Bagi Saifudin, isu di negara ini sekarang bukan Islam dan kepelbagaian agama tetapi rasuah, penyelewengan, penyalahgunaan kuasa, jurang yang besar antara kaya dan miskin, kroni pemerintah kaut harta dan yang miskin tetinggal.

Kalah Umno, yang naik Melayu juga

Saifudin juga menyelar usaha Umno dan medianya yang cuba melebelkan Pakatan Rakyat dengan pelbagai perkara negatif demi untuk mempertahankan kuasanya.

"Umno dan media menggambarkan seolah-olah pemimpin Pakatan Rakyat mengkhianati orang Melayu, derhaka kepada raja, kuda tunggangan kepada orang Cina khususnya DAP supaya Melayu tidak bersama dengan kita," kata Saifudin.

Mereka juga, katanya, menggambarkan, jika Umno atau BN kalah dalam PRU ke 13 nanti, maka negara ini akan di perintah oleh orang asing atau yang bukan Melayu.

"Itulah gambaran yang mereka cuba bagi. Padahal, kalau kalahnya Umno yang akan naik adalah pemimpin PKR dan PAS yang Melayu dan beragama Islam," kata Saifudin.

Klik untuk ikuti ucapan penuih Saifudin.

http://www.harakahdaily.net/v2/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=30991:isu-pluralisme-agama-tidak-berbangkit-&catid=1:utama&Itemid=50

Bahrain king orders release of political prisoners


Some thousands of Bahraini mourners participate in a funeral march Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011, in Malkiya, Bahrain, for Redha Bu Hameed, who died during c AP – Some thousands of Bahraini mourners participate in a funeral march Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011, in Malkiya, …

MANAMA, Bahrain – Bahrain's king ordered the release of some political prisoners Tuesday, conceding to another opposition demand as the embattled monarchy tries to engage protesters in talks aimed at ending an uprising that has entered its second week.

The king's decree — which covers several Shiite activists accused of plotting against the state — adds to the brinksmanship on both sides that has included a massive pro-government rally Monday, an opposition march in response and the planned return of a prominent opposition figure from exile.

It's unclear how many prisoners will be freed, said government spokeswoman Maysoon Sabkar.

But they include some of the 25 Shiite activists on trial for allegedly plotting against the Sunni rulers of the strategic island kingdom, a leading member of Bahrain's Shiite opposition, Abdul Jalili Khalil, told The Associated Press.

He called the prisoner release "a good step" and a "positive gesture."

Two of those in the case are being tried in absentia, including opposition leader Hassan Meshaima, who has been in self-exile in London since last year. He was expected to return to Bahrain later Tuesday.

Mesheima's presence could bolster opposition forces seeking a harder line against the monarchy, including some who have called for the complete ouster of the king and the royal dynasty that has ruled for more than 200 years.

Meshaima's group, known as Haq, is considered more radical than the main Shiite political bloc that has so far taken a central role in the revolt, which began last week with marches but quickly met with violent resistance from security forces.

The primary Shiite group includes 18 members of the 40-member parliament, who resigned Thursday to protest the killing of demonstrators by security forces.

Tens of thousands of opposition supporters marched Tuesday through the capital of Manama, carrying Bahrain's red-and-white flag and circling the Bahrain Mall and Manama's financial district — symbols of the country's prosperity in recent decades. Security forces did not move to confront the procession, but helicopters circled overhead.

"Egypt, Tunisia, are we any different?" they chanted.

The government said Tuesday that the overall death toll was seven from the clashes, which included the army opening fire on protesters. Previous reports from opposition groups and hospital officials in the past week set the death toll at eight, but the government tally now appears accurate.

The government said 25 people were hospitalized, but it's unclear what degree of injury authorities used to arrive at that figure. Opposition group place the figure at more that 200. Associated Press journalists at the main state hospital witnessed many dozens of people being treated.

The attacks on protesters have brought stinging denunciations from Bahrain's Western allies, including the United States. The U.S. maintains very close ties with Bahrain, which hosts the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.

Bahrain authorities withdrew the military Saturday and allowed protesters to reclaim the landmark Pearl Square, which has been the center of the Shiite-led uprising.

Bahrain's Shiite majority has complained of discrimination and political persecution in the kingdom. They have staged protests in the past, but the current unrest — inspired by the toppling of regimes in Tunisia and Egypt — is the most serious against the Sunni rulers.

In a brief statement on Bahrain's official news agency, the king ordered the release of "a number of prisoners" and a halt to "several trials" of Shiite activists.

On Monday, Bahrain's crown prince called off Formula One's season-opening race scheduled for March 13, handing another victory to protesters.

Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa owns the rights to grand prix and serves as commander of the armed forces. Protesters said it would have been disrespectful the hold the race.

The crown prince told F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone by telephone that the race would not go ahead.

"We felt it was important for the country to focus on immediate issues of national interest and leave the hosting of Bahrain's Formula One race to a later date," the crown prince said in a statement.

Sabkar told reporters the "immediate priority is to keep the peace and maintain calm." She said the government, led by the same prime minister — the king's uncle — for 40 years, was "deeply saddened by the tragic events of the past few days and its condolences go out to those families who have lost loved ones."

Opposition leaders have called for the government to resign after last week's bloodshed to pave the way for a dialogue with the crown prince.

"The government has taken a decision to shoot at its people," said Khalil, a Shiite opposition leader. "Our objective remains for this government to resign after failing to protect its people."

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110222/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_bahrain_protests

Iranian naval vessels enter Suez Canal


FILE - In this Sept. 21, 2009 file photo,  cargo ships sail through the Suez Canal, seen from a helicopter, near Ismailia, Egypt. Egypt has agreed to AP – FILE - In this Sept. 21, 2009 file photo, cargo ships sail through the Suez Canal, seen from a helicopter, …

CAIRO – Two Iranian naval vessels entered the Suez Canal on Tuesday en route to Syria, officials said, the first time in three decades that Tehran has sent military ships through the strategic waterway.

Canal officials said the ships — a frigate and a supply vessel — are expected to reach the Mediterranean later in the day.

Israel has made clear it views the passage as a provocation. Israeli officials refused to comment Tuesday, though earlier this week Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he viewed the move "with gravity."

The canal linking the Red Sea and the Mediterranean enables ships to avoid a lengthy sail around Africa. The Iranian ships are headed for a training mission in Syria, a close ally of Iran's hard-line Islamic rulers and an arch foe of Israel. In Syria, officials at the Iranian embassy said it would mark the first time in years that Iranian warships dock in a Syrian port.

The ships paid about $300,000 in fees for the passage, according to a Maritime agent. The officials all spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

Iran's request to send the warships through the Suez Canal came at a particularly difficult time for Egypt as the nation's new military rulers try to focus on pressing domestic issues, including restoring security after the uprising that ousted longtime leader Hosni Mubarak.

The military rulers apparently had no choice but to grant the ships passage because an international convention regulating shipping says the canal must be open "to every vessel of commerce or of war." Egypt also cannot search naval ships passing through the waterway.

Iranian warships have not passed through the Suez Canal since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Egyptian-Iranian ties broke down following the Islamic Revolution and the signing of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty the same year. Later, the relationship improved slightly, with contacts currently channeled through interest sections in the two capitals.

  • Iranian Warships Approach Suez Canal Play Video Iran Video:Iranian Warships Approach Suez Canal FOX News
  • Israel concerned about Iran's Suez Canal passage Play Video Iran Video:Israel concerned about Iran's Suez Canal passage AP
  • More street protests in Iran Play Video Iran Video:More street protests in Iran Reuters
  • http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110222/ap_on_re_us/ml_egypt_iran_warships

    Oil prices soar on fears Libyan crisis will spread


    In this Feb. 16, 2011 photo, Brian Sprague returns the nozzle to the pump after filling his car's tank with gas in Philadelphia. Oil prices hovered be AP – In this Feb. 16, 2011 photo, Brian Sprague returns the nozzle to the pump after filling his car's tank …

    LONDON – Oil prices soared to more than $93 a barrel Tuesday as Libya's uprising spawned violence and chaos that threatened to affect crude production and even spread to other larger OPEC nations in the region.

    Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's grip on power weakened steadily as the protests spiraled out of control. Key government officials at home and abroad resigned and air force pilots defected amid a bloody crackdown on protests in Tripoli, Libya's capital.

    At least 250 people have been killed in the clashes, according to the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, following weeks of demonstrations in neighboring Egypt that ousted its long-serving president.

    Markets, fearing an unpredictable power vacuum, braced for the worst. Benchmark crude for March delivery was up a massive $7.70 at $93.90 a barrel at late morning European time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

    "Unlike Egypt, Libya is a significant producer of crude, and we may be seeing the largest disruptions since the start of the second Gulf War," energy consultant The Schork Report said.

    If Libya's "production facilities are shut down, damaged or destroyed, there is a very real chance that they will not come back for some time," The Schork Report said.

    But while investors are concerned about Libya — the world's 18th largest oil producer providing almost 2 percent of global daily output — the greater fear stalking markets is that the revolts will spread to OPEC's heavyweights, particularly Iran, the group's second-largest producer.

    Victor Shum, an energy analyst at Purvin and Gertz in Singapore, noted that the global market could cope with significant disruptions in Libya.

    "The worry is about what's next. What if protests persist in Iran and things get out of hand?" he said.

    In Iran, government opposition groups this week held their largest protests in more than a year, resulting in two deaths, though the demonstrations have failed to gain the momentum seen in North Africa.

    Looking ahead, there are also knock-on effects from high oil prices. A jump in energy costs could hurt consumer spending and stymie a fragile recovery in developed countries.

    The crisis in the Middle East and North Africa — which has brought down governments in Tunisia and Egypt and sparked protests in Yemen, Bahrain, Iran, Morocco and Jordan — has added about $10 to the price of crude, according to Capital Economics.

    "An additional $10 on the price of oil is not insignificant, particularly for weaker economies in Europe facing a major fiscal squeeze," Capital Economics said in a report. "Given the pace at which events are unfolding, it would be daft to rule out a spike to $140 or beyond in the coming weeks, if the unrest disrupts output from the larger oil producers."

    Trading volumes were expected to increase further Tuesday as many U.S. traders come back from a long three-day holiday weekend.

    In London, Brent crude for April delivery gained $1.15 to $106.89 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.

    The spread between the Nymex and Brent contracts has narrowed slightly but still remains far above usual levels of a few dollars per barrel. Brent is considered to be more sensitive to possible disruptions of Middle East oil supplies, while large U.S. stockpiles of crude are one of the reasons for the lower Nymex quotes.

    In other Nymex trading in March contracts, heating oil rose 10 cents to $2.83 a gallon and gasoline gained 10.1 cents to $2.65 a gallon. Natural gas futures were up 5 cents at $3.92 per 1,000 cubic feet.

    ___

    Alex Kennedy in Singapore contributed to this report.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110222/ap_on_bi_ge/oil_prices

    Thousands call for Yemeni leader's ouster


    Anti-government protesters shout slogans during a demonstration outside Sanaa University Reuters – Anti-government protesters shout slogans during a demonstration outside Sanaa University February 22, …

    SANAA, Yemen – About 5,000 anti-government protesters have rallied in a town in eastern Yemen, calling for the ouster of the country's president.

    President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the target of widespread protests for the past three weeks, has said he will not step down before the end of his term in 2013.

    However, he has pledged security forces will not fire on protesters. Medical officials have said 11 people have been killed in protests this month.

    Police stood by Tuesday as demonstrators marched in the eastern town of al-Shiher, chanting "Down, down with Saleh."

    In the capital of Sanaa, thousands rallied at a university campus while hundreds continued to camp out in a nearby square.

    Demonstrators set up checkpoints around the square and searched those trying to enter.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110222/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_yemen

    Two Iranian naval ships enter Suez Canal

    AlJazeera

    CAIRO, Feb 22: Two Iranian naval ships have entered Egypt's Suez Canal and are heading towards the Mediterranean, a canal official said.

    "They entered the canal at 5:45am," the official told Reuters news agency on Tuesday.

    The two vessels, Alvand, a patrol frigate and Kharg, a supply ship, are the first naval vessels to go through the canal since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution, after which diplomatic ties between Egypt and Iran were strained.

    Egypt's ruling military council, facing its first diplomatic challenge since taking power on February 11, approved the vessels' passage through the canal.

    The canal is a vital global trading route and a major source of revenue for the Egyptian authorities.

    Israel takes a "grave view" of the passage of the ships.

    On Sunday, after a weekly meeting of his cabinet, Binyamin Netanyahu , Israeli prime minister denounced the ships' arrival in the region as an Iranian power play.

    And last week, the prospect of the Suez crossing was described by Avigdor Lieberman, Israel's far-right foreign minister, as a "provocation" by Iran.

    But an Iranian diplomat said that, "This will be a routine visit, within international law, in line with the co-operation between Iran and Syria, who have strategic ties.

    "The ships will spend a few days in Syrian ports for training purposes, having already visited several countries including Oman and Saudi Arabia," the diplomat added.

    The decision was a difficult one for Egypt's interim government as Cairo is an ally of the United States and has a peace treaty with Israel.

    However, Egypt's official MENA news agency has reported that the request for the ships to transit the canal was granted because they were not carrying weapons or nuclear and chemical materials.

    The 1,500-tonne Alvand is normally armed with torpedoes and anti-ship missiles, while the larger 33,000-tonne Kharg has a crew of 250 and facilities for up to three helicopters, Iran's official Fars news agency said.


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    Massacre in Libya as ulama issue fatwa to oppose Gaddafi

    Agencies/Al-Arabiya

    TRIPOLI, Feb 22: Residents of Tripoli said on Monday there had been "a massacre" in the Tajura and Fashlum districts of the Libyan capital, with indiscriminate shooting and air strikes and women among the dead.

    FRIENDS INDEED ... As yet another pro-American tyrant is embattled, the US government refuses to make any clear condemnations

    "What happened today in Tajura was a massacre," one resident of the district said. "Armed men were firing indiscriminately. There are even women among the dead," adding that mosque loudspeakers were putting out appeals for help.

    Another witness in Fashlum said that helicopters had landed what he called armed African mercenaries in the neighbourhood, and that the gunmen then opened fire on anyone in the street, causing a large number of deaths.

    Both Fashlum and Tajura are suburbs of the Libyan capital.

    In a dramatic international response, the airspace over the Libyan capital Tripoli has been closed until further notice, said a spokesman for the Austrian Army, which sought to evacuate European nationals from Libya on a military plane.

    A coalition of Libyan Islamic leaders has issued a fatwa telling all Muslims it is their duty to rebel against the Libyan leadership and demanding the release of all jailed protesters.

    The group also demanded the release of fellow Islamic scholar Sadiq al-Ghriani, who was arrested after criticizing the government, and "all imprisoned demonstrators, including many of our young students".

    Calling itself the Network of Free Ulema of Libya, the group of over 50 Muslim scholars said the government and its supporters "have demonstrated total arrogant impunity and continued, and even intensified, their bloody crimes against humanity.

    Gaddafi has resorted to launching airstrikes on protesters

    "They have thereby demonstrated total infidelity to the guidance of God and his beloved Prophet (peace be upon him)," said the undated statement obtained by Reuters on Monday.

    "This renders them undeserving of any obedience or support, and makes rebelling against them by all means possible a divinely ordained duty," said the scholars, who asked not to be named for security reasons.

    Open dissent by established Muslim clerics is rare in North Africa, but the crackdown on protesters rallied the scholars to form the previously unknown Network of Free Ulema.

    Their first statement issued on Saturday denounced the government for firing on demonstrators who were demanding "their divinely endowed and internationally recognized human rights" and stressed the killing of innocent people was "forbidden by our Creator."

    Libya's justice minister Mustapha Abdeljalil resigned in objection to "the excessive use of force" against demonstrators in the north African country, a Libyan newspaper reported on Monday.

    "Minister Mustapha Abdeljalil said, in a telephone call to Quryna newspaper, he had resigned in protest at the violence and excessive use of force by security forces against unarmed demonstrators," Quryna reported on its website.

    The country’s ambassadors to the UK, Indian and Indonesia have also resigned to protest against the crackdown on protesters and the staff of Libyan U.N. mission has said they would now represent only the people of Libya.

    Fighter jets in Malta

    Separately, the pilots of two Libyan fighter jets who landed in Malta on Monday said they had defected after they were ordered to attack protesters in Benghazi, Maltese military and official sources told AFP.

    The two men told Maltese military officers on the ground that they were senior colonels in the Libyan air force and one of them requested asylum, as they were getting out of their single-seater Mirage F1 jets.

    "One of the pilots requested political asylum," a government spokesman said.

    They said they had been forced to flee their air base in Benghazi after it was taken over by protesters, the sources said.

    "The two pilots are being held by police for further investigations," the Maltese government said in a statement.


    http://en.harakahdaily.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2313:massacre-in-libya-as-ulama-issue-fatwa-to-oppose-gaddafi&catid=36:headline&Itemid=70

    Asri pays tribute to Kelantan sultan's simple lifestyle

    Harakahdaily

    KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 22: Outspoken former mufti of Perlis Dr Asri Zainul Abidin has penned an ode in tribute to the new Sultan of Kelantan for his simplicity in demeanour and lifestyle.

    YOU FIRST ... The Sultan (2nd from left) has been a welcome change in the Kelantan royal household

    "For the humbleness in dress, for the demeanour in public, a feeling of being taken in by the sultan," begins the poem in Bahasa Malaysia, praising Muhammad Faris Petra, who took on the title Muhammad V since ascending the throne last year.

    Faris is said to be popular among ordinary Kelantanese, and known for his simple way of dressing as well as preference to break from royal protocols.

    The eldest son of the former Kelantan ruler is also said to be a frequent attendee at daily congregational prayers at the mosque.

    In several lines posted on his blog, Asri reminded that a king was not honoured for the size of his palace, his powers or titles, but for his level of taqwa (fear of God), his politeness to his subjects and love for the people.

    ON SAME LEVEL ... Tengku Muhammad Faris has captured the hearts of ordinary Kelantanese with his 'non-royal' ways

    "A king is hated for his lack of manners, cursed for his greed, despised for indulging in luxury, forgotten for abandoning religion.

    "But when a king lives a simple life, his name is mentioned (by his subjects), when a king is fearful of Allah, the people surrender their hearts (for him)," he went on, describing Faris.

    41-year old Muhammad Faris was proclaimed the Sultan last September after his father, Ismail Petra, was declared incapacitated by illness.

    The former sultan, through his lawyers, had earlier petitioned the Federal Court to annul the appointment. The Council of Rulers had however confirmed Faris as the rightful heir.


    http://en.harakahdaily.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2318:asri-pays-tribute-to-kelantan-sultans-simple-lifestyle&catid=34:primary&Itemid=56

    Qaradawi to Libyans: Give Gaddafi the bullet

    PressTV

    CAIRO, Feb 22: Top Egyptian cleric has called on Libyan soldiers who can shoot Libya's unpopular Leader Muammar Gaddafi not to hold their fire to free the nation of his oppression.

    Yusuf al-Qaradawi (pic), viewed as the spiritual leader of the Egyptian opposition Muslim Brotherhood, made the call on Monday through a fatwa (religious decree) against the 42-year-long head of state.

    "Whoever in the Libyan Army is able to shoot a bullet at Mr. Gaddafi should do so," he told the Qatar-based news channel al-Jazeera.

    Libya has been swept by pro-democracy protests inspired by popular revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, which toppled the countries' presidents.

    Such killing would "rid Libya of him," said Qaradawi. The scholar, who also heads the International Union for Muslim Scholars, returned to Egypt after three decades in exile following the revolution.

    Gaddafi's government has deployed fighter jets to open fire on the demonstrators to prevent what appears to be an imminent revolution.

    Forces loyal to Gaddafi are also said to have used live rounds against protesters amid reports, pointing to the arrival of planeloads of armed foreign mercenaries in the capital, Tripoli.

    Libyan protesters, however, have reportedly managed to seize several cities.

    The International Federation for Human Rights says as many as 400 people have so far been killed during the protests.

    Qaradawi also told Libyan soldiers "not to obey orders to strike at your own people," and urged Libyan ambassadors around the world to dissociate themselves from Gaddafi's regime.

    http://en.harakahdaily.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2314:qaradawi-to-libyans-give-gaddafi-the-bullet&catid=37:world&Itemid=59

    Exposed: Taib's stash of secret foreign assets

    Bruno Manser Fonds

    KUCHING, Feb 21: The Bruno Manser Fund has today released a black list of companies related to the family of Abdul Taib Mahmud (right), the long-serving Chief Minister of Sarawak.

    The black list contains the names and company numbers of 49 companies in eight countries which are thought to be worth hundreds of millions, if not billions, of US dollars. A considerable number of the companies is active in the real estate and property sector.

    The exclusive black list can be accessed under: stop-timber-corruption.org/resources

    Taib Mahmud, who has been Chief Minister, Finance Minister and State Planning and Resources Minister of Sarawak since 1981, has an impressive track record of corruption and abuse of public funds.

    According to the Democratic Action Party (DAP), Taib has failed to account for a staggering 4.8 billion Malaysian ringgits (1.58 billion US dollars) of Sarawak state funds over the past three years alone.

    In 2007, the Tokyo tax authorities uncovered a massive corruption scheme that involved the payment of kickbacks to the Taib family. In return, nine Japanese shipping companies had received export licences to carry logs to Japan, Sarawak's largest timber export market.

    The black list names 13 Malaysian companies, 10 Australian companies, 9 Canadian companies,7 Hong Kong companies, 4 US companies, 3 companies on the British Virgin Islands and 1 company in Jersey.

    Among the companies listed are Sakto, a significant Ottawa-based property developer, Ridgeford Properties, a London property company active in the high-end market, and Wallysons, the owners of the FBI Northwestern Regional Headquarters building in Seattle. Among the Malaysian companies, Cahya Mata Sarawak (CMS), the state's largest private company, and the Ta Ann logging group are most notable.

    FIT FOR A RAJAH ... A view of a residence said to belong to Taib

    The black list's intention is to help the listed countries' anti-corruption and anti-money-laundering authorities identify and freeze illicit Taib assets in their countries. The list will be regularly updated.

    The black list of Taib’s secret foreign assets

    The following companies are, or have been, closely linked to the family of Abdul Taib Mahmud ("Taib"), who has been Chief Minister of Sarawak, Malaysia, since 1981.

    Taib's ill-gotten foreign and domestic assets are estimated to be worth hundreds of millions, if not billions, of US dollars.

    The Bruno Manser Fund and thousands of supporters around the globe are urging the authorities of the below-mentioned countries to investigate the financial transactions of the black-listed
    companies under their respective anti-corruption and anti-money-laundering legislations and to freeze all Taib family assets for later restitution to the people of Sarawak.

    Australia:
    Australian Universities International Alumni Convention Pty Ltd (ACN: 081942903);
    Donmastry Pty Ltd (ACN: 093 907 843);
    Geneid Holdings Pty Ltd (ACN: 087759751);
    Golborne Pty Ltd. (ACN: 061844148);
    Golden Sovereign Development Ltd (ACN 103 925 613);
    Kesuma Holdings Pty Ltd. (ACN 105540636);
    Newtop Holdings Pty Ltd (ACN: 066588225);
    Ostgro Australia Pty Ltd (ACN: 094721070);
    Sitehost Pty Ltd (ACN: 062312743);
    Valentine on George Pty Ltd (ACN: 105541562)

    British Virgin Islands:
    Astar Properties Ltd. (201522);
    CMS Global (BVI) Ltd.;
    Tess Investments Ltd (203511)

    Canada:
    Adelaide Ottawa Corporation (2028546);
    City Gate International Corporation (446027-8);
    Glowell Development Corporation (1545868);
    Preston Building Holding Corporation (2108122);
    Sakto Development Corporation Pte. Ltd. (155207-4),
    Sakto Corporation (340439-1),
    Sakto Management Services Corporation (655948-4),
    Tower One Holding Corporation (2028542), Tower
    Two Holding Corporation (2018543)

    Right: Preston Square, Ottawa

    Hong Kong:
    Grand Shine Trading Ltd (0127665);
    Grand Will Ltd (0133932);
    Herolite Investment Ltd (129119);
    Natalite Investment Ltd (129502);
    Regent Star Company Ltd (0130318);
    Richfold Investment Ltd (0130308);
    Whittaker Company Ltd (0161304)

    Jersey:
    Sogo Holdings Ltd (43148)

    Malaysia:
    Achi Jaya Holdings Sdn Bhd;
    Borsarmulu Resort Sdn Bhd (213014-M);
    Cahya Mata Sarawak Sdn Bhd (21076-T);
    K&N Kenanga Holdings Bhd;
    Kumpulan Parabena Sdn Bhd;
    Mesti Bersatu Sdn Bhd (758849-V);
    Naim Holdings Berhad (585467-M);
    Sanyan Group;
    Sarawak Aluminium Company (783974-K);
    Sarawak Energy Bhd.;
    Ta Ann Group;
    Titanium Management Sdn Bhd;
    UBG Berhad (240931-X)

    United Kingdom:
    Ridgeford Consulting Ltd (5572163);
    Ridgeford Properties Ltd (3268801)

    USA:
    Sakti International Corporation Inc.;
    Wallysons Inc (the owner of the FBI building in Seattle!);
    W.A. Boylston Inc;
    W.A.Everett Inc.

    This list has been established on 21 February 2011 and will be regularly updated. For more information, please visit www.stop-timber-corruption.org


    http://en.harakahdaily.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2311:exposed-taibs-stash-of-secret-foreign-assets&catid=34:primary&Itemid=56

    Key Libyan diplomats disown Gadhafi's regime


    UNITED NATIONS – Key Libyan diplomats disowned Moammar Gadhafi's regime on Monday and the country's deputy U.N. ambassador called on the longtime ruler to step down because of its bloody crackdown on protesters.

    The Libyan ambassador to the United States also said he could no longer support Gadhafi, the ambassador to India planned to resign, and the ambassador to Bangladesh quit to protest the killing of family members by government troops. Almost all Libyan diplomats at the United Nations backed deputy ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi's pleas to Gadhafi to end his 40-year rule and to the international community to intervene.

    The U.N. spokesperson's office said late Monday that the Security Council had scheduled consultations on the situation in Libya for Tuesday morning. Earlier, Dabbashi had called for an urgent meeting of the Security Council to take action to stop the bloodshed.

    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters in Beverly Hills, California, that he hopes that "the Security Council will take this matter on an urgent basis."

    Ban said it was up to the Security Council to decide whether to call for some sort of "no-fly zone" over Libya to protect protesters from attacks by Libyan aircraft.

    As diplomatic support for Gadhafi began to crumble, Dabbashi warned that if he doesn't leave, "the Libyan people will get rid of him."

    Gadhafi's security forces unleashed the most deadly crackdown of any Arab country against the wave of protests sweeping the region, with reports Monday that demonstrators were being fired at from helicopters and warplanes. After seven days of protests and deadly clashes in Libya's eastern cities, the eruption of turmoil in the capital, Tripoli, sharply escalated the challenge to Gadhafi.

    Ban expressed outrage late Monday at the reported aerial attacks and said the "violence against demonstrators must immediately stop."

    "I have seen very disturbing and shocking scenes, where Libyan authorities have been firing at demonstrators from warplanes and helicopters," Ban told reporters at a hotel in Beverly Hills. "This is unacceptable. This must stop immediately. This is a serious violation of international humanitarian law."

    Ban said he had spoken to Gadhafi earlier Monday for 40 minutes and "forcefully urged him to stop violence against demonstrators and again strongly underlined the importance of respecting the human rights of those demonstrators."

    Libya's ambassador in Washington, Ali Adjali, told BBC World that the reports of firing from warplanes spurred his decision not to support the government any more.

    "To me it is a very sad moment seeing Libyans killing other Libyans," he said. "I'm not supporting the government killing its people. ... I'm (not) resigning Moammar Gadhafi's government, but I am with the people. I am representing the people in the street, the people who've been killed, the people who've been destroyed. Their life is in danger."

    Dabbashi, the deputy U.N. ambassador, also said he and the U.N. diplomats were not resigning because they served the people of Libya and not the regime.

    "This is in fact a declaration of war against the Libyan people," he told reporters, surrounded by a dozen Libyan diplomats. "The regime of Gadhafi has already started the genocide against the Libyan people."

    Libya's U.N. Ambassador Mohamed Shalgham was not present at Dabbashi's press conference. He told the U.N. correspondent for the pan-Arab newspaper, Al-Hayat, that all diplomats at Libya's mission supported Dabbashi "excluding me." Shalgham said he was in touch with the Gadhafi government and was trying "to persuade them to stop these acts."

    Libya's ambassador to Bangladesh, A.H. Elimam, resigned to protest the killing of family members by government soldiers in Libya, said a senior official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Dhaka. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, said Elimam informed the foreign ministry about his resignation late Monday.

    In New Delhi, an Indian diplomatic official told the AP that the Libyan ambassador to India intends to resign. However, as of Tuesday morning the ambassador, Ali al-Essawi, had not officially met with the foreign ministry to turn in his credentials.

    Earlier, al-Essawi told the BBC he was resigning because of "massive violence against Libyan civilians." Abdel-Moneim al-Houni, who resigned Sunday as Libya's ambassador to the Arab League in Cairo, demanded that Gadhafi and his commanders and aides be put on trial for "the mass killings in Libya."

    "Gadhafi's regime is now in the trash of history because he betrayed his nation and his people," al-Houni said in a statement.

    A Libyan diplomat in China, Hussein el-Sadek el-Mesrati, told Al-Jazeera, "I resigned from representing the government of Mussolini and Hitler."

    Libyan embassies in Tokyo and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, were closed Tuesday, according to non-diplomatic workers who answered the telephones.

    Gadhafi appeared very briefly on Libyan state television early Tuesday to attempt to show he was still in charge and dispel rumors that he had fled.

    Gadhafi is reportedly using mercenaries against the protesters and Dabbashi urged the international community to impose a no-flight zone "on the cities of Libya so no mercenaries, no supplies of arms will arrive to the regime."

    Dabbashi also urged the international community to establish safe passage for medical supplies from neighboring Tunisia and Egypt to get across the borders to Benghazi, Libya's second-largest city, which was the scene of the heaviest fighting. By Monday, protesters had claimed control of the city, overrunning its main security headquarters.

    "We also call on the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to investigate the crimes against humanity committed by Gadhafi against the Libyan people," Dabbashi told the Associated Press.

    The best scenario, he said, "is to have him before the court, to prosecute him and to know from him everything about the crimes he committed before, whether it is ... the genocide he is committing now or the disappearance of certain important personalities... and all the other crimes he has committed during the 42 years in power."

    Dabbashi also called on all countries to refuse entry to Gadhafi if he tries to escape and to monitor financial transactions if he tries to send money outside Libya.

    Some 70 human rights groups called for immediate international action "to halt the mass atrocities now being perpetrated by the Libyan government against its own people."

    The groups urged the U.N. Security Council to meet and take action to protect Libyan civilians from "crimes against humanity," and they urged the U.N. General Assembly to suspend Libya from membership on the Geneva-based Human Rights Council.

    The signatories included the U.S.-based National Endowment for Democracy, Physicians for Human Rights, Geneva-based UN Watch, and groups from many other countries including South Africa, Switzerland, India, Nigeria, Germany, Pakistan, Venezuela and Britain.

    ___

    Associated Press writers Anita Snow at the United Nations and Raquel Maria Dillon in Beverly Hills, California, contributed to this report.

    (This version CORRECTS Corrects that Ban spoke in Beverly Hills instead of Los Angeles. Upgrades attribution to reflect that AP reporter was at Ban event. Security Council to hold consultations at 9 a.m. (1400 GMT) Tuesday. For global distribution.)


    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110222/ap_on_re_us/libya_diplomacy

    Gadhafi's hold on power is suddenly under threat


    Moammar Gadhafi AP – FILE - In this Sept. 1, 2009 file photo, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi gestures with a green cane as …

    CAIRO – For more than four decades, Moammar Gadhafi was the face of Libya. He withstood international isolation and U.S. airstrikes, managing to claw his way back to a degree of acceptance by the global community.

    Now, the ultimate survivor is confronted by the biggest threat to his rule from a popular rebellion.

    The anti-government battles that have reportedly left more than 200 people dead in the past week will indelibly alter Libya's political landscape. If Gadhafi is toppled, like the leaders of neighboring Egypt and Tunisia, the lack of a clear institutional system in Libya thanks to the very system he set up, and the absence of any kind of established opposition bloc, leaves open the question of who could fill the vacuum.

    Egypt and Tunisia had well-established — but corruption-plagued — governing institutions that allowed for a smoother transition and rebuilding of the nation.

    Not so in Libya, where Gadhafi holds no official role in government. The so-called "jamahiriya" system that he set up is designed to give the appearance of a government, with a series of People's Committees and People's Congresses.

    In reality, it's a system whose sole purpose is to ensure that power stays in the hands of the Arab world's longest-serving leader.

    While former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak "was playing tennis in Sharm el-Sheik, Gadhafi .... spent his time building up his power base," said Jon Marks, a Libya expert with London-based Cross-border Information.

    "Every time you look at the different strands of Libyan society ... you see that there's one puppetmaster, and it's Gadhafi," he said.

    Amid the protests, Gadhafi wend on state-run television early Tuesday in an attempt to show the country he was still in charge and to dispel some media reports he had fled.

    "I am here to show that I am in Tripoli and not in Venezuela. Don't believe those misleading dog stations," he said, sitting in a car in front of what appeared to be his residence and holding an umbrella out of the passenger side door in the rain. The video clip and comments lasted less than a minute — unusual for Gadhafi, who is known for rambling speeches that often last hours.

    Gadhafi turns 69 sometime this year — the month and day of his birth in 1942 is uncertain — and he came to power in a coup that ousted King Idris in 1969. One of the foundations of the revolution was a rejection of communism and capitalism — shunning anything linked to Libya's colonial history, and a determination to chart his own course.

    With no constitution, the blueprint for governance was his "Green Book" — a slim volume of his philosophies that inspired an entire research department at one of Libya's main universities. Plaster representations of the book have been erected in cities across Libya.

    In addition, no one branch of Libya's feared security apparatus has a monopoly on power.

    One son — Mutassim — was picked to head one branch, while another son, Khamis, headed what analysts say is a British-trained unit. A third son, Seif al-Islam, has become the Western face of the regime and was put forth as the reformer, heading a variety of youth organizations.

    All three were left to jockey for power while Gadhafi was depicted on billboards across Tripoli gazing into the distance.

    Occasionally, he weighed in. For example, he once issued calls to dismantle the government because of corruption and distribute oil wealth directly to the people.

    Each statement left observers scrambling for clues as to which son was more in favor.

    All the while, Gadhafi watched, careful to remain firmly in control and ready to act in those rare occasions when the fear inspired by the security forces was not enough to maintain order.

    The image of a leader unafraid to use force is one Libyans know well.

    Seif al-Islam, in what many see as a thinly veiled warning of a possible escalation of the crackdown, said on state television early Monday that the country could be headed for civil war and that Libya's army, which fully backed his father, was unlike the armed forces of Tunisia or Egypt.

    The son's comments "showed that Gadhafi, or those close to him, want to fight it out and create a situation like in Somalia where they will leave behind them a broken society," said Saad Djebbar, a Libya expert with Cambridge University's North African Institute.

    It's as if he were saying, "If I lose, you lose the country," Djebbar said.

    Instead of a country with one of Africa's highest per capita incomes — about $13,800, according to the CIA — Libyans could find their vast oil wealth being fought over by various tribal groups.

    Over the years, Gadhafi used his country's vast oil wealth to support militant movements and their leaders — from Abu Nidal and other Palestinian factions to Venezuelan terrorist Carlos the Jackal and the Irish Republican Army.

    After the United States decided that Libya was behind a 1986 bombing of a West Berlin disco, killing two American servicemen, a Turkish woman and wounding 200 others, it unleashed airstrikes on targets in Tripoli and Benghazi killed 41 people, including Gadhafi's adopted daughter.

    But the man President Ronald Reagan famously dubbed the "mad dog of the Middle East" was undaunted, launching in 1988 an operation that led to the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, that killed all 269 people on board and 11 on the ground.

    The incident may have cast Gadhafi — and Libya — as a pariah, but that ostracism only served to harden his resolve.

    Gadhafi was also said to have had Mansour Kikhia, a former foreign minister and dissident, kidnapped while he was in Cairo for a human rights conference in 1993. Kikhia was said to have later been killed and his body melted down in a steel plant.

    Much of his energy went into opposing Israel. In 1987, at an Arab summit in Algiers, he wore a white glove on his right hand to avoid contact with those who dealt with Israel. He also heaped scorn on his fellow Arab leaders. In one instance, he sat contemptuously at an Arab League meeting in the center of the room smoking a cigar.

    The outbursts abroad were for domestic consumption. At home, he continued refining the revolution, drawing attention to perceived injustices in Libya with little concern that he and his family may be guilty of some of them.

    He decried the corruption that allowed a limited number of Libyans to accumulate tremendous wealth. But Gadhafi and his family is believed to have amassed a fortune — often siphoned directly from the wealth accumulated from sitting atop Africa's largest proven reserves or crude or from a share in business ventures.

    "Gadhafi's sort of joke jamahiriya system has mutated into some kind of crony capitalism," Marks said.

    Libya's sovereign wealth fund, meanwhile, has almost $70 billion — putting it in the realm of other oil giants like the United Arab Emirates or Saudi Arabia. The country, a member of OPEC, produces almost 1.6 million barrels per day of crude. About 80 percent of its exports go to Europe.

    Even with its oil wealth, Libya, with a population of slightly over 6.4 million, was far from reaching the levels of Norway, another major oil producer with a slightly smaller population. The difference stemmed, in part, from Libya's ostracism for so long.

    While extolling the egalitarian nature of his country, Gadhafi went to great lengths to ensure that regions directly in his domain — such as Tripoli — got most of the benefits, while the east faced the harshest conditions and crackdowns.

    The heaviest fighting and unrest has been around Benghazi, a city of about 700,000 where anti-Gadhafi animosity runs deep, especially after Libyan forces killed 1,200 inmates — most of them political prisoners — during prison riots in 1996.

    Economic reforms that began to take shape after Libya renounced its weapons of mass destruction program and claimed responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing have reshaped Tripoli.

    Foreign oil companies moved in, with giant BP PLC drawing tremendous ire amid often-denied accusations that it was instrumental — directly or indirectly — in helping bring about Scotland's compassionate release of the only man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing. But others, from Exxon Mobil and Occidental Petroleum, to Italy's Eni, Royal Dutch Shell and Russia's Gazprom, are also hard at work.

    International banks began to move in as well, and other Western companies were quick to set up shop in a country that had, until around 2005, been a sanction-decreed investment no-fly zone.

    Against that backdrop, Gadhafi endured. More recently, he has been known as much for his eccentricities — his female Ethiopian bodyguards and a Ukrainian nurse, wearing Bedouin-style robes or bringing his own Bedouin-style tent on trips abroad — as for defying the West.

    While Britain's government scrambled with a public relations nightmare after the jailed Lockerbie bomber it sent back to Libya was released, Gadhafi was unfazed, apparently confident in the knowledge that after paying about $2.7 billion in compensation to the families of the bombing victims, the money was ready to flow back.

    Change may have come in the form of an economic opening, but the country's political structure was unaltered, as was its attitude toward dissent.

    Even if Gadhafi emerges from the current crisis still in power, the impact will reverberate in Libya. Analysts say that some oil production has already been affected as companies either pull or consider withdrawing their foreign employees.

    Gadhafi "has lived with international isolation before. He's going to be tough nut to crack," Marks said. "They're going to have to take him out feet first."

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110222/ap_on_bi_ge/af_libya_gadhafi

    Gadhafi goes on Libyan TV amid wave of protests

    AP/Libyan State Television

    In this video image broadcast on Libyan state television early Tuesday Feb. 22, 2011, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is shown. Gadhafi appeared for les AP – In this video image broadcast on Libyan state television early Tuesday Feb. 22, 2011, Libyan leader Moammar …

    CAIRO – Deep rifts opened in Moammar Gadhafi's regime, with Libyan government officials at home and abroad resigning, air force pilots defecting and a bloody crackdown on protest in the capital of Tripoli, where cars and buildings were burned. Gadhafi went on state TV early Tuesday to attempt to show he was still in charge.

    World leaders expressed outrage Monday at the "vicious forms of repression" used against the demonstrators.

    The longest serving Arab leader appeared briefly on TV to dispel rumors that he had fled. Sitting in a car in front of what appeared to be his residence and holding an umbrella out of the passenger side door, he told an interviewer that he had wanted to go to the capital's Green Square to talk to his supporters, but the rain stopped him.

    "I am here to show that I am in Tripoli and not in Venezuela. Don't believe those misleading dog stations," Gadhafi said, referring to the media reports that he had left the country. The video clip and comments lasted less than a minute — unusual for the mercurial leader, who is known for rambling speeches that often last hours.

    Pro-Gadhafi militia drove through Tripoli with loudspeakers and told people not to leave their homes, witnesses said, as security forces sought to keep the unrest that swept eastern parts of the country — leaving the second-largest city of Benghazi in protesters' control — from overwhelming the capital of 2 million people.

    State TV said the military had "stormed the hideouts of saboteurs" and urged the public to back security forces. Protesters called for a demonstration in Tripoli's central Green Square and in front of Gadhafi's residence, but witnesses in various neighborhoods described a scene of intimidation: helicopters hovering above the main seaside boulevard and pro-Gadhafi gunmen firing from moving cars and even shooting at the facades of homes to terrify the population.

    Youths trying to gather in the streets scattered and ran for cover amid gunfire, according to several witnesses, who like many reached in Tripoli by The Associated Press spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. They said people wept over bodies of the dead left in the street.

    Warplanes swooped low over Tripoli in the evening and snipers took up position on roofs, apparently to stop people outside the capital from joining protests, according to Mohammed Abdul-Malek, a London-based opposition activist in touch with residents.

    Gadhafi appeared to have lost the support of at least one major tribe, several military units and his own diplomats, including Libya's ambassador in Washington, Ali Adjali. Deputy U.N. Ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi accused the longest-serving Arab leader of committing genocide against his own people in the current crisis.

    The eruption of turmoil in the capital after seven days of protests and bloody clashes in Libya's eastern cities sharply escalated the challenge to Gadhafi. His security forces have unleashed the bloodiest crackdown of any Arab country against the wave of protests sweeping the region, which toppled leaders of Egypt and Tunisia. At least 233 people have been killed so far, according to New York-based Human Rights Watch. The difficulty in getting information from Libya made obtaining a precise death toll impossible.

    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called on Gadhafi to "stop this unacceptable bloodshed" and said the world was watching the events "with alarm."

    British Prime Minister David Cameron, visiting neighboring Egypt, called the crackdown "appalling."

    "The regime is using the most vicious forms of repression against people who want to see that country — which is one of the most closed and one of the most autocratic — make progress," he said.

    Communications to Tripoli appeared to have been cut, and residents could not be reached by phone from outside the country. State TV showed video of hundreds of Gadhafi supporters rallying in Green Square, waving palm fronds and pictures of him.

    State TV quoted Gadhafi's son, Seif al-Islam, as saying the military conducted airstrikes on remote areas, away from residential neighborhoods, on munitions warehouses, denying reports that warplanes attacked Tripoli and Benghazi.

    Jordanians who fled Libya gave horrific accounts of a "bloodbath" in Tripoli, saying they saw people shot, scores of burned cars and shops, and what appeared to be armed mercenaries who looked as if they were from other African countries.

    Many billboards and posters of Gadhafi were smashed or burned along a road to downtown Tripoli, "emboldening" protesters, said a man who lives on the western outskirts of the capital.

    The first major protests to hit an OPEC country — and major supplier to Europe — sent oil prices jumping, and the industry has begun eyeing reserves touched only after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the first Gulf War in 1991.

    Tripoli was largely shut down Monday, with schools, government offices and most stores closed, except for a few bakeries, said residents, who hunkered down in their homes. Armed members of pro-government organizations called "Revolutionary Committees" hunted for protesters in Tripoli's old city, said one protester named Fathi.

    Members of the militia occupied the city center and no one was able to walk in the street, said one resident who lived near Green Square and described a "very, very violent" situation.

    "We know that the regime is reaching its end and Libyans are not retreating," the resident said. "People have a strange determination after all that happened."

    The heaviest fighting so far has been in the east. Security forces in Benghazi opened fire Sunday on protesters storming police stations and government buildings. But in several instances, units of the military sided with protesters.

    By Monday, protesters had claimed control of the city, overrunning its main security headquarters, called the Katiba.

    Celebrating protesters raised the flag of Libya's old monarchy, toppled in 1969 in a Gadhafi-led military coup, over Benghazi's main courthouse and on tanks around the city.

    "Gadhafi needs one more push and he is gone," said lawyer Amal Roqaqie.

    Gadhafi's son went on state TV early Monday with a sometimes confused speech of nearly 40 minutes, vowing to fight and warning that if protests continue, a civil war will erupt in which Libya's oil wealth "will be burned."

    "Moammar Gadhafi, our leader, is leading the battle in Tripoli, and we are with him," he said. "The armed forces are with him. Tens of thousands are heading here to be with him. We will fight until the last man, the last woman, the last bullet," Seif al-Islam Gadhafi said.

    He also promised "historic" reforms if protests stop. State TV said Monday he had formed a commission to investigate deaths during the unrest. Protesters ignored the vague gestures. Even as he spoke, the first clashes between demonstrators and security forces in the heart of Tripoli were still raging, lasting until dawn.

    Fire raged Monday at the People's Hall, the main building for government gatherings where the country's equivalent of a parliament holds sessions several times a year, the pro-government news website Qureyna said.

    It also reported the first major sign of discontent in Gadhafi's government, saying Justice Minister Mustafa Abdel-Jalil resigned to protest the "excessive use of force" against unarmed demonstrators.

    There were reports of ambassadors abroad defecting. Libya's former ambassador to the Arab League in Cairo, Abdel-Moneim al-Houni, who resigned his post Sunday to side with protesters, demanded Gadhafi and his commanders and aides be put on trial for "the mass killings in Libya."

    "Gadhafi's regime is now in the trash of history because he betrayed his nation and his people," al-Houni said in a statement.

    A Libyan diplomat in China, Hussein el-Sadek el-Mesrati, told Al-Jazeera, "I resigned from representing the government of Mussolini and Hitler."

    Two Mirage warplanes from the Libyan air force fled a Tripoli air base and landed on the nearby island of Malta, and their pilots — two colonels — asked for political asylum, Maltese military officials said.

    A protest march Sunday night sparked scenes of mayhem in the heavily secured capital. Protesters had streamed into Green Square, all but taking over the plaza and surrounding streets in the area between Tripoli's Ottoman-era old city and its Italian-style downtown.

    That was when the backlash began, with snipers firing from rooftops and militiamen attacking the crowds, shooting and chasing people down side streets, according to witnesses and protesters.

    Gadhafi supporters in pickup trucks and cars raced through the square, shooting automatic weapons. "They were driving like madmen searching for someone to kill. ... It was total chaos, shooting and shouting," said a 28-year-old protester.

    The witnesses reported seeing casualties, but the number could not be confirmed. The witness named Fathi said he saw at least two he believed were dead and many more wounded. After midnight, protesters took over the main Tripoli offices of state-run satellite stations Al-Jamahiriya-1 and Al-Shebabiya, a witness said.

    "Gunfire was echoing across the capital all night last night," said Adel Suleiman, a Jordanian adviser to the Libyan Central Bank governor.

    "I saw scores of burned cars and shops in the capital," said Suleiman, who was among about 260 Jordanians evacuated from Tripoli.

    Mahmoud Shawkat, a 28-year-old computer engineer, said his Libyan neighbor was shot in the head during a protest in Green Square. "I'm not sure if he died," Shawkat said. "I had to flee to the airport."

    A Jordanian engineer who identified himself as Abu Saleh, 30, said armed militias were in Green Square on Monday morning, and many of them appeared to be foreigners from other parts of Africa "who were shooting randomly at people and in the air. Some of them were carrying swords."

    He said he also saw bloodstains on the road on my way to the airport and "pictures of Gadhafi were also torched."

    Fragmentation is a real danger in Libya, a country of deep tribal divisions and a historic rivalry between Tripoli and Benghazi. The system of rule created by Gadhafi — the "Jamahiriya," or "rule by masses" — is highly decentralized, run by "popular committees" in a complicated hierarchy that effectively means there is no real center of decision-making except Gadhafi, his sons and their top aides.

    An expert on Libya said she believed the regime was collapsing.

    "Unlike the fall of the regime in Tunisia and Egypt, this is going to be a collapse into a civil war," said Lisa Anderson, president of the American University in Cairo, and a Libya expert.

    Seif has often been put forward as the regime's face of reform and is often cited as a likely successor. His younger brother, Mutassim, is the national security adviser, with a strong role in the military and security forces. Another brother, Khamis, heads the army's 32nd Brigade, which according to U.S. diplomats is the best-trained and best-equipped force in the military.

    In Benghazi, cars honked their horns in celebration and protesters in the streets chanted "Long live Libya" on Monday, a day after bloody clashes that killed at least 60 people.

    Benghazi's airport was closed, according to an airport official in Cairo. A Turkish Airlines flight trying to land in Benghazi to evacuate Turkish citizens was turned away Monday, told by ground control to circle over the airport, then to return to Istanbul.

    There were fears of chaos as young men — including regime supporters — seized weapons from the Katiba and other captured security buildings. "The youths now have arms and that's worrying," said Iman, a doctor at the main hospital. "We are appealing to the wise men of every neighborhood to rein in the youths."

    Youth volunteers directed traffic and guarded homes and public facilities, said Najla, a lawyer and university lecturer in Benghazi. She and other residents said police had disappeared from the streets.

    After seizing the Katiba, protesters found the bodies of 13 uniformed security officers inside who had been handcuffed and shot in the head, then set on fire, said a doctor named Hassan, who asked not to be identified further for fear of reprisals. He said protesters believed the 13 had been executed by fellow security forces for refusing to attack protesters.

    Tunisia's official news agency said at least 2,300 Tunisians fled neighboring Libya on Sunday and Monday out of concerns over the unrest, crossing at the border post of Ras Jedir. Other reports suggest the figure was much higher.

  • Anti-government protests in Libya Slideshow:Anti-government protests in Libya
  • British FM condemns "lethal force" in Libya Play Video Video:British FM condemns "lethal force" in Libya AFP
  • ___

    AP correspondents Hamza Hendawi in Cairo, Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations, Jim Kuhnhenn in Washington and Sameer N. Yacoub in Amman, Jordan, contributed to this report.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110222/ap_on_re_af/af_libya_protests

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